(Roughly) Daily

In re: the stomach on which an army marches…


Best if eaten before January, 2014

Readers may recall the announcement of caffeinated beef jerky as a battlefield snack for peckish soldiers.  Now the Pentagon’s developmental chefs are adding another staple: a sandwich that can be served fresh after sitting on the shelf for two years.

Why not? The “freeze-dried dreck” that constitutes most MREs has to last years at a time while supplying hurried soldiers with the energy they need, says Clay Dillow at Popular Science. And most of these air-sealed meals, typically little more than “gummy paste,” are in dire need of an upgrade. Enter “the world’s most cutting edge sandwich.”

“For food to rot, you usually need oxygen and water” to invite in bacteria, says Will Shanklin at Geek.com. “MREs that eliminate water have great shelf life, but horrible taste.” In order to keep these high tech sandwiches flavorful, scientists enlisted the preservation properties of a familiar condiment: jam.

Unlike freeze-dried food, preservatives like jam have high water content, says Shanklin. The high-tech sandwich’s jam-like filling — whether it tastes like PB&J or an Italian-style hoagie — “locks in the moisture,” creating a barrier around the water molecules that bacteria need to survive. A special “packet of iron fillings” is also inserted into the package, which “draws in excess moisture, converts it into rust, and traps it.” As for oxygen? The sandwich is packed tightly and vacuum sealed, like most other MREs.

“I’m a big fan. I love the bread,” one soldier tells BBC News in a TV interview. Another echoes his sentiments: “It’s definitely the best two-year-old sandwich I’ve ever had,” he says, smiling. “Better than a lot of new ones I’ve had, too.”

Read the full story in The Week.


As we reconsider discarding those week-old left-overs in the refrigerator, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that a young white woman brought her fiancee, an African-American doctor, home to meet her parents: Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner opened in theaters across the U.S.  The film was groundbreaking in its positive treatment of interracial marriage– which had been illegal in most of the United States, and was still illegal in 17 states, mostly Southern states, up until June 12 of the year of the film’s release, when anti-miscegenation laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

The film is also notable its pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as the parents.  It was their ninth– and last– turn as co-stars.  Tracy died 17 days after shooting wrapped; Hapburn never saw the finished film, explaining that the memories of Tracy were “just too painful.”  The doctor was played by Sidney Poitier; his fiance, by Katharine Houghton, Hepburn’s niece.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 12, 2011 at 1:01 am

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